Audit Finds Unlawful Spending by States, Regions Under Prior Govt

By Htet Naing Zaw 17 January 2018

NAYPYITAW — The Auditor-General’s Office says it has found unlawful expenditures of the development funds of the country’s regions and states after reviewing the use of those funds under the previous U Thein Sein administration.

The office sent the results of its audit to the President’s Office late last year, Auditor-General U Maw Than told reporters in Naypyitaw on Tuesday.

“We are just responsible for reporting what we have found, and it is up to the President’s Office whether or not to take action,” he said.

The Auditor-General’s Office examined the development funds of all regions and states and of the Naypyitaw Union Territory. It found that missing funds were modest, except in Magwe and Irrawaddy regions, as well as violations of procedures and regulations.

“The way some regional governments spent the funds didn’t comply with procedures and regulations. For example, there were miscalculations in spending, and some spent without drawing up budgets,” said U Maw Than.

He added that the President’s Office had yet to issue any instruction in response to the report.

U Maw Than declined to disclose the detailed financial accounts of the regional governments.

The Auditor-General’s Office was assigned by the President’s Office in June to examine the financial accounts of the previous government following revelations of embezzlement of regional development funds by the former Magwe Region chief minister U Phone Maw Shwe.

U Khin Maung Win, chairman of the Lower House Judicial and Legal Affairs Committee, suggested that the Auditor-General’s Office be more open with the public about the missing funds, citing the example of U Phone Maw Shwe, who returned some of the misappropriated money after the investigation.

He also cited the example of the Mandalay Region government, which revoked permits for more than 100 plots of land that were dubiously granted or leased by the previous regional government during the transfer of power in 2016.

“Those cases show that misappropriation exists. In any case, action should be taken against those who are responsible,” he said.

The President’s Office has previously said it would not take action against the former Magwe chief minister in order to stick to its policy of ‘no retrospection.’

The officials who ran the Irrawaddy Region government under the previous administration had to explain their spending of regional development funds in May after allegations that they embezzled up to 7 billion kyats ($5.2 million at current exchange rates). The region’s former ministers claimed that they donated large portions of the fund to a regional development foundation that they were heading.

“We are not finding fault with them. We just want to ensure proper public financial management and put them on the right track,” said U Maw Than.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.